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CD REVIEW: The Outer Vibe - Hoka Hey

By: Cyrus Rhodes








Artist: The Outer Vibe

CD: Hoka Hey

Label: Independent Artist

Website: http://www.theoutervibe.com/

Genre: Alternative Rock, Power Pop,

Sounds Like: Maroon 5. INXS, Train, The Black Crows

Technical Grade: 10/10

Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Move, Crossroads of Desire, Heart Motor, Reset My Heart

Weakness: Short-Sided Catalogue




Grand Rapids, Michigan based 5 piece rock band “The Outer Vibe” just released their latest effort entitled Hoka Hey in 2012. Band members include Nick Hosford (Guitar, Banjo, Lap Steel,)  Sean Zee (Lead Vocals, Percussion) Lisa Kacos (Trumpet, Keyboards, Percussion) Jeff Brems (Drums and Percussion) and Andrew Dornoff  (Bass) Influences range from Muse, to Queen to Led Zeppelin.


The CD kicks gets off the ground nicely with the title track a smooth flowing intro piece that serves up methodical intro that eventually leads you into a driving rock rhythm, effective guitar groove, soulful melody from Zee and company. Track 2 “Princess of Sin” keeps thing moving in the right direction with heartfelt vocal delivery from Zee with rocked out guitar, infectious groove against a hooky chorus making for an impressive follow-up piece. Track 3 “Crossroads of Desire” serves up another impressive groove that dishes out full tilt rock rhythm, impressive drum fills and thought provoking lyrical content arsonist an invigorating groove. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 amazing songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved is above the bar. I would classify this music as classic R&B, Americana, with brief touches of psychedelic Rock of the early 70’s. Music is reminiscent of Maroon 5. INXS, Train, The Black Crows and a tad of Led Zeppelin, and splashes of The Black Crows, Train and even INXS. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive horn sections, slamming solo guitar, well placed percussion, Keyboard and Hammond Organ chops, lush harmonies layered everywhere all built upon a thick as a brick rhythm section. . What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to singer Zee - as for his vocal abilities well – he’s amazing! His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timber that is simply infectious. I suspect some of his vocal influences are – Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Chris Robinson (Black Crows) and even Michael Hutchence (INXS).. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks indicating to me a confident vocal ability. By track 3 the CD hits solid stride dishing out an amazing string of songs in a row. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board. This CD from “The Outer Vibes” delivers 9 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. The music of TOV has everything you would expect from a world class musical production. From melodic “Heart Motor” to heartfelt “Reset My Heart” to my personal favorite “Move” to upbeat “Whatever You Like” to slamming Break out” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with a more striking remake of Track 3 “Crossroads of Desire” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.   


I normally dedicate this paragraph to any weaknesses discovered. CD is a tad bit short with 9 tracks including 2 tracks that are essentially the same song. Perhaps 2 or 3 songs are needed to really hit it out of the park.


From start to finish Hoka Hey from “The Outer Vibe” is an amazing collection of music from these 5 from Michigan. The songwriting – world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of this 5 piece  is rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old fashioned no holds barred R&B Rock swagger. Last but not least the vocal presence of Sean Zee is breathtaking, infectious and has the voice of legends. Clearly he is a premier talent within this band. Let me go on record to say “The Outer Vibe is pure gold. Like a drug you can’t help but get sucked in by his amazing band. Get a piece of it while you can!


Cyrus Rhodes